The University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of five institutions that are researching the possibility of using genetically modified pig tissue for human kidney transplants.

UAB is receiving a $19.5 million grant from United Therapeutics Corp. to begin a xenotransplantation program. School officials announced the five-year grant on Friday.

UAB is a leading kidney transplant center, and the program aims to transplant genetically modified kidneys created from pig tissue within five years.

Alabama senators have approved establishing an innocence commission to review some of the state’s capital convictions.

Senators voted 20-6 in favor of the bill yesterday, sending it to the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would create a panel to review new evidence in death row cases that hadn't previously been heard by a court.

Bill sponsor, Republican Senator Dick Brewbaker, says he supports the death penalty in Alabama, but he thinks the state should work harder to make sure people are guilty before executing them.

Republicans in the Alabama House say a small business tax credit and a teacher pay raise are among their top priorities for the legislative session that begins Tuesday.

Republicans announced the platform, titled "Right for Alabama."

House Speaker Mike Hubbard says legislators will seek a teacher pay raise in the upcoming session, although they aren't yet specifying an amount.

State of Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley says he's getting close to proposing retirement incentives for state employees and he may follow that with retirement incentives for public school employees. Bentley said Thursday he's got no goal yet for the number of retirements, but the state would cut its expenses by $82 million if 1,500 employees retired. Bentley said retired teachers would have to be replaced, but the new employees would be younger teachers making less pay than veteran educators. He said 5,000 retirements would save $100 million.